two poems, by brian rihlmann

you cannot imagine the revenge we take

I remember how he walked up on me
6’5” to my 5’6”
and just stood there
literally looking down his nose
saying nothing

his nostril hairs flared
blending perfectly into
his graying military mustache

I looked up
and met his gaze
with feigned boredom

the uniform shirt—
an old one
I wasn’t supposed to be
wearing it anymore
(yet no announcement
had been made)

no problem
(coulda just told me, asshole!)

we discovered he’d done
similar things to us all
as we stood outside his office, bullshitting
after he’d left for the day
laughing as we wiped boogers
on his door

we laughed harder
when one guy
stuck his hand
down his pants
scratched his balls
harvested the “fermunda”
and painted his doorknob
with that finger

but we doubled over
and rolled on the floor
when another
reached around the backside
got a middle finger in
up to the second knuckle
and did likewise

that dude didn’t pay for a drink
all night long


the online guy—
he’s a big phony
worthy of Holden’s scorn
in the outside world
the flesh version
goes through whole days
without speaking to anyone
without a smile
certainly without winking
or sticking his tongue out
and definitely without
his heart on display
oh, he might weep
at sad songs
or onscreen death—
second hand grief—
but his eyes are desert dry
when it’s someone he knows—
he figures they’re out of it
there’s no tears
in that

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